Easter Sunday 2022
Call to worship
Oh! Can’t You See What Love Has Done?! Hallelujah
We need not fear, we need not despair, we are God’s beloved children. Hallelujah!
For the cross is bare, the tomb is empty, Christ is risen! Hallelujah!
Jesus Christ is risen today. Hallelujah!
…So this week, in care homes and concert halls; parks and pubs; online and in person, we have declared that there is good news to share, embrace, celebrate today! This doesn’t mean denying the suffering we encounter – it doesn’t mean ignoring the headlines of horror we’ve been seeing recently. This is why we don’t jump from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday. Rather, holy week acknowledges the darkness we can all face. It lays us bare to the suffering we can encounter or even cause…but then Jesus speaks works of forgiveness and the promise of paradise from the cross. Then, Mary meets a risen friend in a garden. Then, two disciples on a roadside welcome a stranger and meet with Christ. The Easter story takes the reality and heartbreak of human suffering and violence most seriously…but it says they won’t have the last word. For life is stronger than death. Grace is stronger than guilt. And nothing – not pandemic, nor war; not dictators, nor fake news; not our ability to hurt others or ourselves; no nothing in life or even in death can ever separate us from God’s fierce, Empire-toppling, peace-making, world-shaking love!
Prayers of praise, confession & absolution
‘A Happy Day’ – The Lion Storyteller Bible – Lynda
So – the birds were singing; the sun was shining and the women had the most amazing story to tell. Then they shared it with the men! Yeah – there were a few hiccups to start with. Some disbelief. A sprinkle of sexism. And even when the men began to realize just how amazing the story really was – when they began to meet with the risen Jesus in all sorts of incredible ways, they still had a tendency of putting things in a typically male way…as Paul does in our next passage but look past his talk of enemies, victories, and power…and there’s actually good news to hear underneath…
1 Corinthians 15:19-26
There’s a lot in that passage, isn’t there?! But for today, let’s just hear those words – ‘Christ has been raised from the dead – the first fruit of all those who have died’. Here we have one of the cornerstones of Christian hope. For God took on our flesh in Christ, lived a very human life in Jesus – learning, growing, laughing and weeping – and died on the cross. So God shared our birth, our life, our death…and now, through the resurrection of the son, the sacred solidarity of God means that we now share in Jesus’ resurrection. That no one is Godforsaken in life or in death. That those we’ve loved and lost; those who have been taken by illness, accident, violence; those who have been stolen by war in Ukraine, Yemen, South Sudan and the world over…that none of these are lost to God. For Christ has gone before us; he gone to prepare a place for us; and there are many, many rooms in his Father’s house.
But have you ever wondered what that actually might look like?! I mean – I know that the whole afterlife thing is a little ethereal and all but…well…what might it have been like when that first person arrived there…wherever there is?! And would kind of reception would they have got?!
Let’s join the chorus of heavenly Hallelujahs now as we sing…hymn number 151 – Christ is risen – Hallelujah!
From the very depths of darkness springs a bright and living light,
out of falsehood and deceit a greater truth is brought to sight…The Lord is risen indeed!
So the angels began to understand the scandal and wonder of the gospel as the criminal on the cross became the VIP at the after party. I think that wonderful take on the story – by The Miracle Worker author, Murray Watts – shows beautifully how no individual is lost no situation beyond redemption, for God. That every person is worthy, welcomed, and wanted in God’s kingdom. That however life treats us, whatever our story, it begins and ends in love. This is what Jesus came to show and share. This is what his birth and life, his teaching and preaching, his death and resurrection tells us. Perhaps – like the angels there – it will take us a long time to fully work out what this means…but in the meantime, I’ve certainly seen glimpses, heard whispers of this good news this week.
In the refugees welcomed here and the hungry served at the chaplaincy; in hymns sung at care homes and a fish & chips eaten at Castle Square; in breaking bread with the housebound and drinking wine with friends around the world last Sunday morning; with the nurse who said they wouldn’t want anyone to die alone and the worker who attended the funerals no one else would; in laying rocks – and burdens – at the cross on Good Friday and in gathering here this Easter Sunday…we have declared that every life is sacred; every person a child of God; that however life treats us, whatever our story, it starts and ends in love. Thanks be to God!
Prayers of intercession – John Henson
Our story starts and ends in love…it’s important to remember that for when life is tough, it makes all the difference to know where you’re going and where you came from.
In A Field in the Country
When people are cruel it makes all the difference to know where you’re going and where you came from. This Easter morning, we once again declare that we were born from love and will die into love; that we came from God and will return to God as we tell the story of the God who is with us.
It’s the story of a man who was born to poor parents in an oppressed land. It’s the story of a child refugee who grew and learnt; who loved and lost; who questioned and discovered God’s love. It’s the story of a wanderer who enjoyed his food and loved to share a table with friends and strangers. The story of a crucified criminal, a risen saviour, a host who welcomes us here today. So come, you who are weary and restless, you who are celebrating and joyful, come, all who hunger and thirst for the table is spread and the welcome is wide.
This morning, we look back to Thursday evening and remember that it was on a night of both celebration and betrayal that Jesus took the bread leftover on the table, blessed it and broke it; reminding his friends that it is in the breaking that we become whole, in losing our lives that we find them, in serving that we are served.
As the grain scattered becomes one in the loaf, when we eat this bread, we become one with one another.
We remember that he took the cup also leftover on the table, poured out and shared it, speaking scandalous words of blood and covenants, speaking comforting words of love and promise.
And as the grapes find life in the vine, when we drink this cup, we become one with the source of life itself.
And so, let us do as Christ did – sharing bread, drinking wine, but first – giving thanks to God the Father. Let us pray…
Prayer of thanksgiving
You made the earth, and all that lives on it. You inspired prophets and widows and slaves, to seek liberation from all that oppresses, so that we might be released to love fully. You became incarnate in Jesus Christ, so that through him we might experience the depth and width of your extravagant love.
While Jesus lived among us he stood up for women and children, he touched the untouchable, healed the sick, and welcomed those who had given up hope of being included. Through him we see a path not only to our own freedom, but a path to the liberation of the whole world.
He taught us that it will not be in the brutality of violence that our world will be saved. Rather, it will be in showing kindness to our neighbour, in standing up against injustice, in returning hate with love. It will be in the simple but holy task of dining together, sharing bread and wine, truly seeing one another as beloved by you.
In this meal we remember his words, and the price he paid for who he was, what he said, and what he did. With these elements we remember his wonderful life, his death on the cross, his glorious resurrection. With bread and wine, we remember his promise that our story would begin and end in love.
We remember, too, how he promised the coming of an advocate and now pray that the Spirit move again here today.
Bless this bread and bless this fruit of the vine.
Bless all of us in our eating and drinking that our eyes might be open, that we might recognize each other as members of the same body, Christ’s hands and feet and heart, sent for the healing of the world.
All this we ask through the risen Christ who taught us to pray, saying – in a multitude of tongues and translations – ‘Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name…
The body of Christ, broken for all We do this in remembrance of him
The blood of Christ, given for all. We do this in remembrance of him.
The bread of life. We eat and rejoice.
The cup of blessing. Drink and give thanks!
Thank you, O Christ, for this feast of life.
We are fed by your love;
we are strengthened by your life.
We are sent forth into this world to live your way and share your joy.
To feed as we have been fed,
forgive as we have been forgiven,
love as we have been loved.
Thanks be to God.
The risen Christ, who walks on wounded feet,
from garden tomb through darkened city street,
unlocks the door of grief, despair, and fear,
and speaks a word of peace to all who hear.
Blessing and dismissal
Let us embrace the work and wonder of this day with fresh commitment.
May we go forward together, in the love of God and the guidance of the Spirit,
May we see the face of Christ in everyone we meet,
And may everyone we meet see the face of Christ in us.
Our Easter service has ended. Our service out there begins afresh.
We go with joy and in peace. Amen.